Spotify strikes a multi-year deal with J.J. Abrams' new podcast unit

Bad Robot Audio may release many of its podcasts on Spotify first.

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Spotify's growing podcast ambitions now include a pact with a big studio before it truly gets started. The streaming music service has struck a multi-year deal that gives it "first look" access to podcasts from J.J. Abrams' new Bad Robot Audio unit. The move lets Spotify snap up exclusives from Bad Robot's planned mix of fiction and non-fiction shows.

Bad Robot Audio hasn't yet detailed its releases, but it will have an experienced leader. Christina Choi will helm the new outfit after directing content partnerships at Audible, and before that a creative development executive at Spotify. She played an important role in Spotify's early podcast efforts, and is unsurprisingly eager to collaborate with her former employer in her field of expertise.

The move could be a coup for Spotify if Bad Robot's podcast group fares as well as its better-known video team. Spotify has numerous major exclusives from narrowly-focused partners like WWE, the Obamas and Dax Shepard, but alliances with general studios on this level are decidedly less common. This arrangement might produce top shows in a wider variety of genres, and could include some well-known voices in the bargain.

For Bad Robot, this is part of a broader expansion into the digital realm. J.J. Abrams' company has been shifting toward streaming shows, and last year branched out to gaming with Bad Robot Games. There's a clear effort to create a media empire that reaches well beyond conventional video, and podcasts represent a significant next step.